Matt Myers is the district traffic engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT). He also serves as the coordinator for the Central Region of Missouri's Coalition for Roadway Safety (MCRS).
Because driver's safety is paramount to MoDOT and the citizens of Missouri, that is why MoDOT is partnering with Missouri's Coalition for Roadway Safety.
"MCRS have adopted a goal to reduce the number of roadway fatalities to 850 by the year 2012." Myers said. "This number of lives lost has not been experienced in Missouri since the year 1949. MoDOT's partnership began in 2004 when the Coalition was formed. In that year, over 1200 people lost their lives on Missouri's roadways. Since 2004, Missouri has seen a steady decline in roadway deaths and is now seen as a national leader for roadway safety."
As fall ends and winter starts, winter weather can rapidly make the driving surface slick. Myers said there are many things a driver can do to keep safe on winter roads.
"Turn on your headlights to alert other driver's." Myers said. "Give snowplows plenty of room. Slow down. Slowly accelerate and try not to slam on the brakes. Find out about driving conditions before you go at traveler's map at www.modot.org."
Mistakes drivers make in these conditions according to Myers are that drivers do not slow down to account for the increased braking distance needed to stop or steer.
"Driver's also need to brake slowly to keep in control of their vehicle," Myers added. "Drivers should also take the time to clear their windows, brake lights and signals of any snow that has accumulated."
He also said drivers should always watch for "Black Ice" or wet pavement which has refroze after a storm which is nearly invisible to the driver. Myers also has advice when you hit a patch of "Black Ice."
"If you feel your front wheels skid," Myers said, "take your foot off the gas and shift into neutral. As the car slows down, traction will return. Steer in the direction you want to go and shift back into drive. If your rear wheels skid, take your foot off the gas and steer into the direction you want to go. For example, if your rear wheels are sliding right, then steer to the right. If the rear wheels swing to the opposite direction, then gently steer in that direction. You may need to steer left and right until you have complete control of the vehicle again.
Also, if you have standard brakes, pump them gently. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump them but apply steady pressure to the brakes."
One important part of what Myers does is going to schools and informing students about some of the dangers for them on roadways. The number one thing Myers stresses is wearing seatbelts, as they are the number one defense against injury in a crash. Through the coalition, Myers and his crew are available to give presentations to schools. For more information, call MoDOT's toll free number 1-888-275-6636 or at www.modot.org.